Dr. Kim’s new book “14 Keys to Lasting Love: How to Have the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” comes out on January 8, 2019. This book will change your marriage, and it will most certainly change you. Over the next few weeks, Dr. Kim will highlight some of the principles from the book in his weekly “Insights.”
My college life as an undergraduate was about as different as possible from my life as a graduate student. I attended TCU as a freshman with a business management major. My granddad and my dad were both in the supermarket business under the family name. It seemed only natural that I would carry on the tradition. My priorities in college were twofold: First, have fun, and second, get an education. My priorities were backward. The summer before my senior year, I needed to go to summer school to make sure I had enough credits to graduate on time, in four years. My dad thought that four years of partying was enough.
After graduation, I went to work for my dad and settled into that role. A few years later, I knew God was calling me to something else, but I wasn’t sure what that would be. Over the next few years, God patiently led me to where He wanted me to be, and I enrolled in graduate school. The consequences of too much fun at TCU came back to bite me, and I entered grad school on probation. I had one semester to prove myself. This was different. This time God was involved and He was calling me to be full-time for Him. I got the priorities right this time. I worked hard and learned everything I could. I felt like a sponge soaking everything up. I loved it, and my grades reflected that love. Everything that I thought about doing academically as an undergraduate I actually did in grad school. I was a different student with different priorities and a different motivation. It was an amazing time in my life.
In many ways, understanding our roles as a husband and a wife can be similar to that college versus grad school experience. College was the time you spent growing up in your family home. That’s where you first learned about roles and your first definition of a husband and a wife. Since most of us had a few gaps in this education, we entered grad school - our marriage - with more to learn. With two master’s degrees and two doctorates, I spent a lot of years in grad school.
As you enter the grad school of role models, plan to stay a lifetime. Don’t let that frustrate you. I have discovered that I will always be working on my role as a husband to Nancy. Some of that is because I can be a slow learner in certain areas, and the rest is because people and needs can change over time. In many ways, what Nancy needs from me today is different from what she needed a few years ago. Today we are not raising a family and we have more time for each other. Knowing that her love language is quality time gives me the opportunity to focus on quality time without some of the distractions I had in the past. The essential role of being a leader does not change.
Whatever your family of origin looked like, you are responsible for your marriage and family today. Your role as a husband or a wife is yours to define and learn with God’s guidance. I have never counseled a person who did not want to be the spouse God designed them to be. They see the value but just need a road map to get there.
Let’s look at some ideas:
Make two lists relating to your family of origin. On one list, write down everything you valued in your family that you think God would have you bring forward into your marriage. On the other list, write down everything from your family that you think God would have you leave behind. Use these lists as checkpoints as you each seek to improve your roles in your marriage.
Work together on role goals for each of you as a husband and a wife. Support each other in the process and pray for each other.
This will be an evolving process, so update your list every year. For example, one year may have more time for you to pray and study the Bible together than you had in the past.
Celebrate your successes along the way!
We all have a choice. We can repeat the bad patterns set by our parents or we can do thing differently. Which do you choose?